Advancements in Virtual Physiotherapy – Bridging the Gap in Pandemic Times

Many physical therapists were laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic and switched to a hybrid model of in person visits with video conferencing. During interviews, many self-practicing PTs and clinic owners emphasized telehealth as a sustainable business model.

VR is a technology in constant evolution that can be used to improve the physiotherapy burwood experience. Here are some ways that combining traditional neurological physiotherapy with VR can help patients recover more quickly and efficiently.

Improved Patient Compliance

Patient compliance, or adherence to treatment, is the key to successful physiotherapy outcomes. Often, a lack of motivation, insufficient follow-up, and difficulty with home exercises can lead to non-adherence and poor results [1].

Virtual physiotherapy is designed to improve compliance by eliminating barriers and making it easier for patients to access and complete their rehabilitation. It’s also a great way to increase therapist-patient engagement and patient satisfaction.

Whether they’re working from home, at work or on the road, patients can receive physiotherapy camberwell treatment wherever there’s an internet connection. This can make it easy to fit treatment into busy lifestyles and prevent gaps in care.

VR can also be used to encourage neuroplasticity, which helps the brain form new neural connections and repair damage to muscles, nerves, tendons and bones – helping them heal faster and become more functional. Craig Hewat, who runs a physiotherapy practice in Melbourne that specializes in VR, says that there are a range of commercially available VR systems that can be easily modified with games and other content that are adapted for physical rehabilitation purposes.

Despite concerns about the technology savviness of older clients, physiotherapists who use VR and interactive video game tech find that patients across all age groups are eager to adopt this approach if it’s delivered in a meaningful and engaging manner. Indeed, research from Ascenti has found that patients who have access to integrated digital care experience a higher level of pain reduction compared with those who only receive in-person physiotherapy.

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Improved Patient Engagement

Virtual physiotherapy ashwood allows patients to engage with their health in ways they may not have been able to before. They can access treatment at times that are convenient for them and there is no need to arrange childcare, transport or take time off work. This has the potential to improve their adherence to treatment and improve outcomes.

Patients have also come to expect a level of engagement from their healthcare providers that they may not have experienced before. They want to be able to contact their provider 24 hours a day and have access to the latest technology to support them in their care.

Whether this is through apps on their phones or virtual reality headsets, they have been able to experience a level of engagement with their care that they hadn’t previously. This has been seen as a positive by many clinicians who have found that the ability to be able to deliver treatment at times that are convenient for their clients has led to improved patient compliance and better outcomes.

While the ability to use VR has been a hugely effective way of engaging with clients, there is still an element that is missing; that of therapeutic touch. There are times when it is necessary to feel the different tissues, tension, spasm and depth of pain and this cannot be replicated remotely.

Improved Patient Perception

Patients have embraced virtual physiotherapy during the pandemic with some stating that it has become ‘the norm’. Interviewees also reported that no-show rates and missed appointments dropped, follow-up appointment throughput was increased and therapist visit throughput was higher when utilising telehealth technologies.

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Some interviewees noted that the introduction of telehealth prompted patients to take more responsibility and ownership for their recovery through self-management tools. These may include digital health platforms that provide demonstration videos, diaries and progress tracking facilities which can be accessed inside and outside of a video call appointment.

Similarly, immersive virtual reality (VR) provides an opportunity for patients to engage with physical rehabilitation by immersing them in 3D environments that they can walk around together and examine. This can help to reduce patient disengagement that can often occur with a traditional video call.

However, it is worth noting that some of the diagnostic tests that physiotherapists use in a clinic such as range of motion testing and muscle strength and balance assessments can’t be replicated during a virtual call. This can be a significant limitation in the assessment and treatment of certain conditions. This also means that some therapeutic touch is lost, which can be a critical component of many physical therapies. This is particularly important for patients with complex and chronic conditions that require manual repositioning, pressing, stretching and releases of tight tissues.

Improved Patient Education

A number of physiotherapists have found that patients enjoy the experience of virtual treatment. Patients often express excitement about not having to travel and arranging appointments that suit their schedules more. They also appreciate the convenience of accessing care when they’re unable to attend in-clinic treatment due to work or family commitments.

Regardless of the benefits of virtual physiotherapy, there are some situations in which in-person treatment will be best. For example, some diagnostic tests that require physical examination cannot be performed remotely (for instance, neurological testing). It’s important for healthcare providers to identify those situations when remote physiotherapy might not be the right treatment option for their patients.

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One of the key barriers to virtual physiotherapy is that some patients can feel intimidated by the technology, especially when it’s new and unfamiliar. For this reason, it’s important to make the process as simple and user-friendly as possible. This may include educating patients about the technology, helping them navigate software and hardware, providing instructions on how to use apps/software and even offering training sessions. It’s also essential to ensure that the technology is well-maintained and has regular updates to prevent technical issues or incompatibility with new software or games.